World Challenge: Students gain liberty, experience culture

Courtesy of Rachel Daley



By Kendall McCormick



Eighteen students and three adult chaperones explored the mountainous regions of Ecuador through a World Challenge expedition this summer.  

The trip, which began in early July, lasted approximately one month. Eric Magers, the Green Team advisor, guided the journey with Audra Young, who works with World Challenge, and Josh Pinstein, a recent UMass graduate.

Throughout the expedition, the students completed a series of different phases including acclimatization, the main trekking phase, community service projects, and rest and reflection.

Before leaving they needed to raise money.

“The fundraising was tough at some points because we were always nervous about getting the right amount of money,” sophomore Sean Gutierrez said.

When July 3 arrived, however, they had reached their financial goal and were ready to head out into the South American terrain.

Magers said the students immediately took on the leadership role, while the adults took a backseat role. “The entire expedition was theirs. They got to do or not do whatever they wanted to,” he said.

During the expedition, participants took part in a variety of different activities ranging from horseback riding, to hiking up a volcano, to volunteering at a school.

According to Magers, as their community service project, the students painted a school for the native children. Sophomore Sarah Lewiecki said the community service project taught them to appreciate the things they had at home.

The students returned as changed people, according to Magers. “It was great to see them interacting and learning about this culture that is the majority of the world,” he said.

“I thought it was an eye-opener to see the differences,” Gutierrez said.

Sophomore Elizabeth Warren said since they’ve returned from the trip, the students have been much more thankful for what they have at home.